A few weeks ago I was given a very generous gift by @shollg: a Seklema hold-down mat, for testing in the Glowforge. This mat is designed for holding items down for engraving by either rotary engravers or in a laser. Thanks again so much, @shollg!
I was holding off on testing it until the new low power settings were available because I was afraid the mat would be destroyed if I couldn’t dial down the power a bit. Now that low power is available, I tested the mat today. It works great!!! I’m tagging @henryhbk, @Tuck, and @johnbrooker because I think they have a special interest in holding down and cutting very thin materials, but the results are probably of interest to many.
First I tried it with some average weight (probably about 80 lb) card stock, of 0.0105" thickness. All you have to do is smooth it down on the gel-like surface. I did an engrave and then a cut (I should mention that beforehand I did some testing to determine the minimum power that would cut through this cardstock. Turned out to be 27/197/1/.01 for Power/Speed/#of passes/thickness.). You will notice that, just like when you use a cutting mat in a vinyl cutter, the surface is affected by the cutting. According to the suppliers this is a self-healing mat that will close up the cuts up to a point, although eventually you would need to replace it. Note that the flip side of the mat is the same as the front so you have two sides you can use. And before you ask, the literature doesn’t specifically state that it does not have PVC, but the mat is sold for use in laser engraving so I have to assume it does not.
Anyhow, here’s what it looked like:
Now, I know you are asking “What about thinner materials?” So I tried to find the thinnest material that would make a good test. Got a square of tissue like that used in lining boxes and bags for gift wrapping:
Obviously pretty thin, you can see through it. My calipers measure 0.001" but they are cheap and probably not hugely accurate.
Smoothed it down on the mat:
You can see the gel grabbing the tissue as you smooth it down.
Okay, a short clip of it cutting (air assist blowing full speed as usual):
The tissue peeled up with no problem, very easy: